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Old 03-11-2014   #1
slickhorn's Avatar
Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 365
Rethinking oar tethers

I grew up rowing old school. Open locks, Carlisles or maybe some Gulls from GI Joes, and alligator straps. 2x8 frames. Cam straps were some yuppie thing like self bailers, or drysuits. Helmets were for the shuttle.

Nowadays everyone runs these cute little oar leashes. Fair enough -- I've lost an oar in my day and half the time they don't even float. But is the entrapment hazard worth the benefit? Seems to me 2 spare oars solves the issue without the entanglement aspect. If yer reload is fast enough anyway.

Perhaps worst of all, the leashes fail to address what might be the most significant hazard an oar can present: as a battering ram aimed at your temple. One good hit and yer unconscious, which is one quick stop from dead during a swim. Most helmets do not protect the temples.

All of which leads me to wonder if there isn't a better method for this.

What if the oar leash attached INBOARD of the oarlock, not outboard. It could even attach to a dring rather than the oar tower, to make the various lengths work out.

What's the advantage? Well, the goal would be to have a leash long enough to let the oar float free next to the boat out of the oarlock. But short enough to prevent a jammed oar from launching at your head like a missile. Essentially a brake, if you will, using the oar stopper itself to hold the oar.

Only thing I can think is the attachment point on the boat side of things might need to move down and out. And I guess you'd still need something outboard of the oar stopper to keep the leash from coming off over the handle. still...

Thoughts? Downsides?

There must be something obviously wrong with this idea of someone smarter than me woulda done it by now!

Anyone tried it? Pix?

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Old 03-11-2014   #2
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
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Posts: 4,347
My solution, to this and many other problems, is posilockers.

I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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Old 03-11-2014   #3
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
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You raise a valid concern, however, I am not aware of any serious accidents involving leashes, so the benefits of not having to pay $300 for a new oar may outweigh the risk.
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Old 03-11-2014   #4
malloypc's Avatar
Albany, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
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Posts: 256
Originally Posted by mania View Post
I am not aware of any serious accidents involving leashes...
There have been close calls though - as I can attest..
Oar tethers - advice, do or don't?

I went tetherless for the next year, but ended up popping an oar twice the following year in the same part of Tyee Rapid on the Rogue.
I've since adopted using a short length of small prussick cord and (to the OP's point) attach it to the frame rail next to the oar stand.
I've had oars pop since, but they always stayed next to the boat and with noentrapment issue that the longer strap based leash posed.
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Old 03-11-2014   #5
Conifer, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 131
If on ruby horse thief and multiple boats are anchored together in a party-barge fashion I recommend some type of tether. Especially if the oars are brand new mxg square tops.
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Old 03-11-2014   #6
Eagle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2005
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I see where you're going but it wouldn't work for me. I like to be able to pull the oars inward to avoid rocks, or just rest, in addition to shipping them forward.

I'm not a fan of the store bought ones with the plastic buckles because there's no good way to release them under tension. I prefer to use bits of prusik cord with quick release bowline knots.
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Old 03-11-2014   #7
slamkal's Avatar
vancouver, Washington
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2009
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I use pro-loks which are similar to the posilockers, although the pro-loks will release before either the lock shaft shears or the oar cracks off.

I still run tethers. You don't need much length. I've seen a friend ride out a rock on the rogue where the boat was pinned to a rock for about 20 minutes while we tried to free it. One of his $300 sawyer oars was dangling under the boat the whole time but he didn't lose it. Now if it were wrapped around his leg or neck this would probably be a concern but I think the entrapment issue is pretty slim.

the likelihood of an oar on a tether taking out your teeth is probably much less than the downstream oar doing it while its in the oarlock ...

there are those who use tethers and those who eventually wish they had ...
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Old 03-12-2014   #8
slickhorn's Avatar
Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 365
Great thoughts. thanks. It is really interesting to hear how people row, because there are some tendencies we all have and I don't even know mine sometimes til I hear others'.

I never pull my oars inboard, for example. admittedly, this solution would take that away.

unfortunately, oar rights, posilockers, pro-loks anything that prevents feathering my blade (pins n clips, O original sinner, I look at thee) is anathema. some old school gear is still the best, and open locks.... if they ain't open it ain't rowin, to me.

I rig my oars with a standard carlisle sleeve then a 2 piece oar stop. I'm thinking I'll just put a little cord loop between the two, and make that where my oar tether attaches.
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Old 03-12-2014   #9
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,408
slickhorn, I use the same setup you do. I have a NRS webbing tether deal I use a lot have used a section of parachute cord as well.
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Old 03-12-2014   #10
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
Sounds like you're making this too hard. A piece of light rope tied to the frame and the oar works just fine. Tied close to the post or tower, and close to the collar on the oar should keep things short enough that you won't get wrapped up in the damn thing.

Shipping oars? Isn't that what the underside of your knee is for?

Changing oars, even if the one you are changing out is busted and you're in Lava shouldn't slow you down........Okay, maybe not Lava ..... anyway, it'll hang there until you can deal with it and it shouldn't get in the way of the new oar you're flailing with. And if you do somehow get everything tangled up, if you use the right size light rope it should break before you get dragged into whatever mess you are headed for.

I rowed using good old Pins and collars, and if you let your oar drag in the water you deserved a punch in the head; keep the thing out of the water ............. especially the downstream oar ........... unless you actually have something to row for. I rarely shipped my oars unless I was tied up to another boat or on shore; the rest of the time it was hooked under my knee or I was using it.

For what its worth.

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